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University Court tells VC and Chair of Council to go now

The HEFCE report into governance at Bath University was discussed at a meeting of the University Court yesterday.   Court is the statutory body made up of stakeholders, public, staff and student representatives.  Court requested

 

•             The immediate resignation and departure of the Vice Chancellor, Chair of Council and the Remuneration Committee, in whom Court expressed no confidence.

•             Full acceptance and implementation of HEFCE’s findings and recommendations.

•             A complete review of University governance, not just the “effectiveness” of the governing bodies.

•             The addition of democratically elected staff and students to the Remuneration Committee, which sets senior management pay, and the removal of powers from the Remuneration Committee.

•             Annual publishing of the University’s overall pay ratio between the lowest and highest paid staff, including perks such as grace and favour homes.

•             A Living Wage be paid to all staff and that the University commence accreditation to the Living Wage Foundation within 12 months.

 

University Court has also agreed that:

 

•             Council acted beyond its powers, violating the University Ordinances, in agreeing the Vice Chancellor’s departure package and that this has further damaged the reputation of the University.

•             The University should appoint a senior external figure (a ‘Visitor’) who could be called upon to help address any future failings of governance.

 

A fuller version of the text from one of the motions has been published on the University website. The meeting has already been covered in the press, including BBC and Guardian.

 

The decision by University Court follows another vote of no confidence in the Vice Chancellor, Chair of Council and the Remuneration Committee last week. Academic Assembly voted by 128 to 29 for their immediate departure and a full review of University governance.

 

Staff, students and the university stake-holder body, Court, have all requested that those responsible for the failings of management and governance finally put the university before their personal ambitions and self-interest by stepping down from their positions of authority. The joint trade unions continue to support this call.

 

Pressure builds on divided University Council to resign

Thursday saw an unprecedented display of unity and strength from staff and students on campus, coming together to reject the Vice Chancellor’s golden handshake and demand the departure of the governors who cobbled the deal together. Almost a thousand students and staff joined the protest on campus, which received substantial press attention from the Guardian, BBC, ITV and Bath Chronicle.

The announcement of the Vice Chancellor’s departure, in 2019, with a paid ‘sabbatical’ worth £235K and the write off of a £31K car loan, has been roundly condemned outside of the university and by staff and students. That pressure, and the demonstration outside yesterday’s meeting of University Council meeting, led to a vote of no confidence in the Chair of Council, Thomas Sheppard. The vote was lost, as was to be expected from a governing body that has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to understand staff and student concerns. But Council was divided. Only 13 of the 22 voting members expressed confidence in the Chair by voting against the motion. 4 supported the motion and 5 abstained.

Also yesterday, members of Bath Students Union voted to no-confidence the whole of the University Council by 2371 to 151.

Staff and students have no confidence in the management or governance of the University of Bath. They command no loyalty from us. If they had integrity, they would have already resigned. As it is, they can only cling to the last shreds of such formal authority as remains to them.

Everybody except a few governors and those at the top of senior management now knows that a fresh start for the University is not possible under its current leadership.